Rafael Nadal calls Wimbledon ban of Russian and Belarusian players ‘unfair’

Rafael Nadal
Nadal claimed victory at the Australian Open earlier this year

Rafael Nadal has criticised the decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players from Wimbledon as a response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Players from Russia and Belarus have also been barred from any of the UK grass-court tournaments by the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC).

“I think it’s very unfair [on] my Russian tennis mates, my colleagues,” said Spaniard Nadal.

“It’s not their fault what’s happening in this moment with the war.”

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic has called the ban “crazy”, while Russian world number eight Andrey Rublev said the ban was “complete discrimination” and “illogical”.

However, some players, including Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina, have welcomed Wimbledon’s action, although the former semi-finalist said Russian and Belarusian players who speak out against the invasion should be allowed to compete.

The governing bodies of men’s (ATP) and women’s professional tennis (WTA) are against the ban and are deciding how to react. One possibility is that they could remove ranking points from the Grand Slam tournament which runs from 27 June to 10 July.

“The 2,000 points, whenever we go to the Grand Slams, they are really important and we have to go to those tournaments,” added Nadal, who is a member of the ATP player council. “So we will have to see the measures that we take.

“What happens in our game doesn’t have any importance when we can see so many people dying and suffering and seeing the bad situation they are having in Ukraine.”

Nadal is set to return to action at the Madrid Open this week, having been sidelined since 22 March with a rib injury.

“Talking about the injury, I’m recovered, I feel good,” said Nadal, who won the Australian Open earlier this year.

“Talking about my tennis game and preparations, well, it’s a completely different story.

“Anyone who has broken a rib knows how limiting it is, very painful, especially the first weeks. I wasn’t able to do anything without a lot of difficulties, even to fall asleep because of the pain.

“I have improved compared to when I came here but I still have ups and downs because it’s been a long time without being in these kind of situations and it’s going to be a difficult week, for sure.”